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Did THIS IS US Deliver On Your Super Bowl Expectations?

BY Jennifer Griffin

Published 4 years ago

Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson. Photo Credit NBC


Not a dry eye in the house, sure, but how are fans taking the details of Jack Pearson’s death following last night’s Super Bowl episode?

NBC’s juggernaut feel-good family drama This is Us finally revealed the specifics of Jack Pearson’s (Milo Ventimiglia) death last night in an emotional hour that has divided fans on its delivery.

As some predicted, Jack didn’t go out in a blaze of glory, trapped inside his burning house while attempting to rescue the family dog. After using a bedsheet as a makeshift rope, and lowering Randall, Kate and Rebecca to safety, Jack did in fact return to the inferno to rescue the dog, and a small collection of cherished family mementos. (The crockpot was not among the treasures.) However after a tense moment in which flames engulfed the upper floor of the house, including the remaining upstairs escape route, Jack emerged through the front door, dog in tow, triumphant and unscathed (you know, apart from some second degree burns to his hands) to embrace his tearful and grateful family.

Sure, he had inhaled more smoke than was wise (as foreshadowed by an EMT on the scene) in doing so, but after leaving the kids off at Miguel’s, Jack and Rebecca drove themselves to the ER to get Jack checked out.  The hospital trip was supposed to be a formality, nothing more than a pit stop before Jack and Bec collected the kids, and moved into a hotel for the interim — except that Jack would never make it out.

THE END IS NIGH BUT WE’RE STILL NOT READY | In the end, Jack’s farewell was neither an ash-choked monologue about love and life, or heartfelt poignant words of wisdom that Rebecca would cherish for the rest of her life. Instead, he asked his wife to move her head because she was blocking his view of the game. Smiling, she left the room to stock up on some vending machine food and to make a couple of calls. While she was gone, Jack suffered a “widowmaker” heart attack (as later explained by the attending doc) and died, offscreen.

In the corridor, Rebecca hears a man calling her name, and turns, but there’s no one there. She collects her candy stash and moves to return to Jack’s room, but is stopped by his doctor who comes bearing the news she is unable to process. (She even takes a bite of her candy bar after hearing the diagnosis — an action she remembers and feels ashamed of years later.)

It’s only when Rebecca runs to Jack’s room that the truth comes crashing down. Jack has died of a massive and unpreventable heart attack.

Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson. Image © NBC

Years later, while attempting to comfort his daughter about the fragility of life, following the accidental stomping of her pet lizard, Mr McGiggles, Randall comments that you never know when you’ll see someone for the last time. And although we are sure to see Milo Ventimiglia’s Jack Pearson on screen again, his final living moment caught us all off guard nonetheless.

ANNIVERSARY | In the present day, we catch up with Rebecca and the Big Three as they celebrate not just another Super Bowl without their Dad, but also the 20th anniversary of his untimely death. While Randall continues to celebrate his father by throwing another party nobody quite wants, Kevin spends the day outdoors, and under Jack’s favorite tree, where he sits down for a heart to heart with Dad, and asks for his help, realizing for the first time how heroically Jack dealt with his addiction problem in the past. Kevin vows to be a better man, then calls his mother to admit he’s not sure if he’s been sitting under the right tree.

Oh Kevin.

Meanwhile, Kate sits down for her annual pilgrimage of watching the game, along with an old VHS tape of her Dad. Toby comes closer to understanding her long-standing sense of guilt over her father’s death. In Kate’s eyes, he died because he returned to the fire to rescue her dog — a decision he gladly made because he couldn’t bear to disappoint her. And although Kate tells Toby her yearly tradition is a cathartic one that helps her process her loss, when her ancient tape becomes mangled in the player, she tearfully admits it’s a yearly punishment she visits on herself. Toby knows a guy who can put the tape contents in the Cloud, and Kate realizes her new man is as every bit as kind and patient as her Dad.

FLASH FORWARD | But what about Randall and Beth’s foster child storyline? We’ve already glimpsed an adorable young boy in desperate need of care, in a previous episode. To date, we’ve assumed that post-Deja, this child is destined to find his way to the Pearson family to join Randall, Beth and the girls.

Photo Credit NBC

But wait! What’s this? It looks like he has already found the Pearsons — in the form of Tess Pearson, his Foster agent. We’ve been watching a Flash Forward to the life of adult Tess, whose positive experiences as a child have clearly inspired her to help needy children find the right parents. We watch with a sense of bitter sweet regret as the little boy in Tess’ care is placed with a white couple we guess will be attentive and caring — but just not as good as Randall and Beth.

A final flash back to our present day then reveals a distraught Deja turning up at Beth and Randall’s door late at night.

What did you think of last night’s episode? Did the manner of Jack’s demise surprise you? Did you see the flash-forward coming? Is Deja home for good? Will Randall ever have the son he’s hankering for?

This is Us returns Tuesday, February 6 (9-10 p.m. ET) on NBC with “The Car,” if your heart can take it.

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